Norfolk, Va. – A Virginia Beach woman was cited by airport police on a weapons charge after Transportation Security Administration officers stopped her from bringing a loaded semi-automatic handgun past the security checkpoint at the Norfolk International Airport (ORF) yesterday afternoon, January 27, according to a release from TSA officials.
The woman was escorting her mother to the gate when TSA officers detected the .38 caliber firearm, which was loaded with seven rounds, including one in the chamber, in the woman’s handbag as she was passing through the airport checkpoint with her mother.
The TSA officer who was staffing the checkpoint X-ray machine detected the handgun inside the woman’s purse as it passed along the conveyor belt, officials say.
Individuals sometimes request a “gate pass” from the airline to escort a traveling passenger to the gate, typically to escort a young child or a senior, TSA says. It is at the discretion of an airline as to whether it will grant a gate pass request. If the pass is granted, the individual goes through standard TSA checkpoint screening, as was the case yesterday.
Upon detecting the gun in the woman’s hand-bag, TSA officers immediately contacted the airport police who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the firearm, and cited the woman on a state weapons charge.
There was no impact to airport operations.
Yesterday’s gun was the second that TSA officers have caught at the airport checkpoint so far this month. In 2014, TSA officers detected seven guns at the ORF checkpoint. TSA officers detected 2,212 guns at checkpoints nationwide in 2014.
As a reminder, weapons — including firearms, firearm parts and ammunition — are not permitted past the checkpoint.
Individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA of up to $11,000.
People are responsible for the contents of carry-on bags they bring to the security checkpoint, and TSA’s advice is to look through bags thoroughly before coming to the airport to make sure there are no illegal or prohibited items.